Hundreds of people have had to flee their homes when flash floods and landslides swept Indonesia's Flores Island.

This handout photo taken on April 4, 2021 and released by the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB) shows the aftermath of a flash flood in the village of Lamanele on East Flores.
This handout photo taken on April 4, 2021 and released by the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB) shows the aftermath of a flash flood in the village of Lamanele on East Flores. (AFP)

At least 44 people have been killed after flash floods and landslides swept an island in Indonesia's easternmost province, rescue officials said, adding they expected the toll to rise.

"There are 44 people dead with nine injured" in East Flores regency, and "many (...) are still under the mud", National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Raditya Jati told AFP.

Mud tumbled down onto dozens of houses in Lamenele village from the surrounding hills shortly after midnight on Flores Island in East Nusa Tenggara province. Rescuers recovered 38 bodies and five injured, said Lenny Ola, who heads the local disaster agency.

The bodies of three people were found after being swept away by flash floods in Oyang Bayang village as 40 houses were destroyed, she said.

Hours before people woke to celebrate Easter Sunday, torrential rain unleashed flash floods in the Catholic-majority Flores Island.

Mud inundated homes, while bridges and roads in the eastern end of the island were destroyed.

Rescuers are struggling to reach the remote and worst-hit area in East Flores regency because of rains and strong waves.

READ MORE: Massive floods kill several in Indonesia's capital

Hundreds flee, number of injured expected to raise

Hundreds of people fled submerged homes, some of which were carried off by the floodwaters.

Seasonal downpours cause frequent landslides and floods and kill dozens each year in Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains.

In another village, Waiburak, three people were killed and seven remained missing when overnight rains caused rivers to burst their banks, sending muddy water into large areas of East Flores district, Ola said. Four injured people were being treated at a local health clinic.

The death toll rose from 23 earlier announced by authorities.

The number of injured is also expected to increase as the agency is still receiving reports from locals, Jati said.

"We are still documenting the total number of people injured," the spokesperson said, adding that extreme weather is expected to continue in the coming week.

READ MORE: Indonesia evacuates thousands of people from flood-hit West Java

Separately on Sunday, major floods also killed two people in Bima city in the neighbouring province of West Nusa Tenggara, according to the disaster agency.

Dams in four subdistricts also overflowed, submerging nearly 10,000 houses in Bima following a nine-hour downpour, said Jati.

Hundreds of people were involved in rescue efforts, but distribution of aid and relief was hampered by power cuts, blocked roads and the remoteness of the area that’s surrounded by choppy waters and high waves, said the National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson, Raditya Jati.

Authorities were still collecting information about the full scale of casualties and damage in the affected areas, Jati said.

Photos released by the agency showed rescuers and police and military personnel taking residents to shelters, bridges cut while roads were covered by thick mud and debris.

READ MORE: Heavy flooding in Indonesia forces over 1,000 to flee their homes

Widespread landslides, flash floods

Fatal landslides and flash floods are common across the Indonesian archipelago during the rainy season.

In January, flash floods hit the Indonesian town of Sumedang in West Java, killing 40 people.

And last September, at least 11 people were killed in landslides on Borneo while a few months earlier dozens died in a similar disaster in Sulawesi.

Deforestation is often a cause of the landslides, according to environmentalists.

The country's disaster agency has estimated that 125 million Indonesians –– nearly half of the country's population –– live in areas at risk of landslides.

READ MORE: Torrential rains set off deadly landslide in Indonesia

Source: TRTWorld and agencies